Demon’s Souls

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
Demon’s Souls is a game that sets you into a world in the midst of a terrible peril where mankind is plagued by demons that steal souls and leave the victims insane. Brave warriors attempt to quell the madness by conquering the demons and gain their power that feeds on the souls of others. It is a hardcore dungeon crawler with heavy RPG overtures and plenty of innovative tricks up its sleeve. Most importantly, this game is designed to kick your ass.

What’s Hot
Let’s get the elephant out of the room first; in terms of difficulty, Demon’s Souls is tougher than Chuck Norris’ beard. Instead of making a game that is pad–your-walls, frustratingly difficult just to be mean about it, the developers thought things through and made the difficulty a vehicle to experience their larger vision of a world that involves some interesting gameplay mechanics.

Those mechanics are the bloodstains on the ground and player messages left behind. The bloodstains will appear on the ground and you touch them to watch a playback of that player’s death. They will provide clues to what happened to cause the death in hopes that you might learn from it and not fall victim to the same fate. The player messages are small patches on the ground that you can read, left behind from other players that place them on the ground. They can warn you of traps or let you know where to find treasure. To encourage the productive use of them, if you recommend the message (basically saying if it was useful) the person that left the note will get a incredibly helpful bonus: a refill on their health meter.

Beyond those new additions, Souls plays identically to a hack and slash RPG. The one caveat is that most hack and slashers don’t have the depth of customization that Souls does. You custom mold your characters and pick out their class. From there you find weapons and armor that will get you through the missions you choose to take. The level cap sits somewhere at about 700 so there will be plenty of time to fiddle around with your character’s stats before you reach the end. The world of Souls is bleak and dark. The images of adventuring in this dead wasteland that will (notice how it wasn’t “might?”) kill you repeatedly are depressing to say the least and it is all by design. The random ghouls you fight are fairly decent and scary but the bosses are really cool looking. That is before they smash you into a million pieces in the first five seconds.

What’s Not
You’ll need to buy a few extra controllers because you’ll break a few trying to get through the first level. If you die, you go back to the beginning of the level with a fraction of your health. The co-op mode helps ease the pain, but there is no easy pass in Souls what-so-ever. There is no better way to articulate how difficult this game is beyond saying even the most calm person you know will be gnashing their teeth at how unfair the game is, difficulty wise.

Visuals in Souls are great, for the most part. One of the crazier moments to the game are when you kill an enemy and they drop dead. The enemy remains enter some ragdoll state where they jitter around the screen and cling to your character. It almost looks comical compared to the serious nature of the rest of the game. It doesn’t seem to fit the game at all.

Final Word
The gameplay holds up in the face of the unrelenting and brutal challenge the game presents, a large part in thanks to the neat design around the challenging difficulty. Souls seems like a direct assault on all the games that offer cushy deaths and limitless checkpoints. In the end, you’ll keep playing the game because of the reward of beating something nearly impossible. Souls is a top notch title that is impossible to put down.